After you’ve made the irrigation plans for your sprinkler, you’ll be able to continue with the sprinkler installation process. Installing your sprinkler system will include digging trenches for pipes, so you’ll need to choose a method that provides consistent depth for the pipes. The trenches for these pipes should be deep enough so that you won’t puncture them during routine lawn maintenance such as mowing the lawn or trimming your hedges. It’s also important to consider the size of your lawn and the spaces you want to water. Here are a few tips to get you started.
What to Know Before You Dig
Even the most organized sprinkler installation plans can go wrong if you’re not completely prepared for the process. Before you start digging the trenches for the sprinkler pipes, call 811 so your local utility company can mark all the buried gas and water lines on your property. You should also call the building codes department for your county or city. A number of areas have specific requirements for irrigation pipes that will let you know how deep you have to bury the pipes in order to comply with local ordinances.
In many areas, burying the sprinkler pipes between 8 and 12 inches below the surface is acceptable. The measurements are from the top to the bottom of the pipe to the soil surface, so your trenches have to be a little deeper than these measurements to ensure the pipes fit properly. So, if you’re using pipes that are 2 inches in diameter and want the pipe buried 10 inches below the surface, your trench has to be 12 inches deep.
While you may or may not have to deal with freezing pipes depending on the weather where you live, burying the pipes between 10 and 12 inches deep will typically keep the pipes from freezing. This measurement is also important to keep in mind if an unexpected cold front comes through your area. This is also a safe measurement because aeration devices don’t reach that far into the ground, and when the pipes are deep enough into the ground, you won’t have to worry about hitting them with shovel blades when you have to dig near the surface of the ground.
Use the Right Tools
Digging trenches for the pipes means you’ll have to put in a considerable amount of manual labor, especially if you’re using a shovel. To speed up the process, water the area where you’re digging for about an hour for two days prior to digging. This allows the water to penetrate the soil and softens it to make digging easier for you. If your yard is especially large, you can rent a trencher so you won’t have to take on the project by hand. You can likely rent a trencher from your local home improvement or garden supply store.
Maintaining Your Sprinkler System
Remember that you have to perform routine maintenance on the sprinkler system to ensure that the depth of the pipes is still acceptable. When your sprinklers are properly maintained, the system will last longer and will provide your lawn and garden with sufficient water for optimal growth.
Make sure that the head of your sprinklers is free of dirt and debris. When the sprinklers are clean, they can move efficiently and adequately water your lawn. Check inside of the sprinkler and clean the dirt from inside the sprinkler head as well. Remove the head and rinse it with water from the hose or tap. Test your sprinklers throughout the day after cleaning to make sure there are no clogs or issues with water distribution.
Too much or too little water pressure may be an issue, due to local water pressure or issues with your actual sprinkler system. If your sprinkler has too much pressure, this could cause you to over-water the lawn and damage the nozzles and heads of your sprinkler system. If your lawn isn’t getting enough water, you may notice brown spots and drying grass or flowers. Ideally, your sprinkler spray heads should operate at 25 to 30 PSI, and the rotor heads should operate between 30 and 50 PSI. You can use pressure-reducing valves, but make sure you consult the sprinkler manual before making any changes.
Check for Leaks and Breaks
After you determine how deep your sprinkler system should be buried into the ground, check for breaks and leaks in the pipes. If the pipes are broken, water can gather in certain parts of the lawn and the water pressure of the sprinkler can be affected. If your sprinkler system has a timer, make sure the timer is working as it should. If the timer isn’t getting enough power, ensure that it’s plugged in or check to see if there’s an internal electrical issue that the manufacturer will need to take care of.
Finally, remember that after you’ve dug the holes for your sprinkler system, you’ll need to maintain the function of the system all throughout the year. While you may have received tips from your plumber or contractor about winterizing the sprinkler, there are some maintenance tips to keep in mind during the warm months of the year as well.
Just before the summer, turn your sprinklers on to ensure that the water pressure is correct and to make sure the pipes aren’t frozen. Inspect the sprinkler heads to check that grass hasn’t grown over them and trim around the sprinkler heads carefully to encourage water flow. Check for clogged or broken sprinkler heads and make sure they are properly aligned. Clean the heads out and reposition them if necessary so that your lawn will be properly watered on a consistent basis.
If you notice any water pressure issues with your sprinkler system after turning it on during the spring or summer, contact a professional contractor who can determine the water pressure for you and give you the tools you need to adjust the pressure accordingly.